Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Kuir Alaak’s Progress

The most interesting thing about the African refugees in Australia is that they are both apparently pretty flexible and often surprisingly adaptable. But some are more adaptable than others. Kuir Alaak has earned the enduring love and respect of the community by making the most of his new life in Australia, and working hard to improve himself.

A charming teenage refugee from the war-ravaged Sudan, Kuir always sets his sights high and has a firm belief that being a refugee is no impediment to progress in Australian society. But at the same time, he says quite frankly that “ It is hard being a refugee” because, according to him, “You have to do everything by yourself”. Kuir says he left his family behind in Africa when he arrived Australia in 1999: his dad is in Uganda and “mum is in a refugee camp in Kenya”. Now, he is all alone, looking after himself; and doing it well.

Kuir, 19, loves everything Australian; especially the people of Adelaide: “Australia is a free and peaceful country” he says with a broad smile, and “ the people here are nice and friendly; I would like my parents to be here with me ”. Ever so conscious of his own identity, Kuir sees the good side of everything; and he is wiser beyond his tender years.

Being a born optimist (and a bright student of International Business), Kuir says he knows how to “make it” in Australia: he wants to get a good education and work hard so that he could support his “mum and dad” who are still languishing in the refugee camps in Africa.

Meanwhile, Kuir is still paying his own way through college, a stupendous achievement for one so young. Thus, while some refugee children who are starved of parental love and affection have fallen by the wayside, Kuir has survived the refugee process and thrived and live to tell the tale. He is a living proof of the fact that a brighter future can rise out of even the most dire circumstances; although it is early days yet.

I think Kuir Alaak has a bright future in Australia. But he needs our moral support. Please send him some encouraging words of wisdom through this medium.

(It should be noted that some refugee children of African descend have quickly adjusted to the Australian way of life and are thriving in the school system. Others are struggling to survive: they are in the most vulnerable circumstances; deserving of our support, and government protection from physical and emotional abuse)
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